Troubleshooting a Cracked Cylinder Head

A cylinder head in a car.

A cracked cylinder head can be the cause of a lot of problems in your vehicle without immediately presenting itself as the cause. By understanding how to locate and rectify the defect with the cylinder, you can ensure that your vehicle continues to run smoothly.


One of the main causes of a cracked cylinder head is an overheated engine so it is important to maintain your engine to prevent this from occurring. Cylinder heads that have been incorrectly installed can also quickly develop defects that cause them to crack. Engines that make use of different types of metals can be problematic because the metals react differently to heat, causing a defect to develop in one area while the surrounding components remain intact.

Step 1 - Examine the Car

Begin the process of repairing a cracked cylinder head by examining the relevant part of the engine. Lift the hood and prop it, making sure that it is properly secured. This must be done when the car is cold. Consult the car’s manual before starting. This will give you an idea of the correct installation and how the component should look.

Step 2 - Find Defects

Due to the smooth surfaces that the component normally has, it is relatively easy to diagnose a cracked cylinder head. Cracks can form in the metal because some combinations of metal cannot take too much pressure. The cylinder heads will need to be replaced if cracks have developed in the sides. Check for any discoloration or warping as this can be a sign that a crack is imminent. It is necessary to check the joining point where the cylinder heads attach to its neighboring components. Problems can arise if it is not flush.

Step 3 - Install the New Cylinder

You must ensure that the replacement is of the correct specifications. Specifications are not uniform across all vehicles. Use the correct tools for the job to ensure that it is completed correctly.

Step 4 - Prevent it from Happening Again

After installation, it is important to carry out whatever steps are necessary to prevent the problem from occurring again. Avoid pouring cold water onto the engine to cool it when it overheats as a sudden change in temperature can do more harm than good. Allow the engine to cool before adding water where it is necessary. Make sure that the water in the radiator is always topped up to the correct level and that the seal on the cap is in good condition. Make sure the thermostat and fan are also working. Defects to other components within the engine can cause the engine to overheat so check hoses and other components to ensure everything is in good condition.